Paginated Reports Using Power BI Report Builder: 5 Easy Steps

on Data Driven Strategies, Data Processing • December 3rd, 2021 • Write for Hevo

Power BI Report Builder

Microsoft Power BI is an essential tool that has helped numerous companies greatly improve their efficiencies. Power BI Report Builder is a tool that you can leverage to create elegant Paginated Reports, which can then be published to the Microsoft Power BI service.

In this article, you will see how to create and publish Paginated Reports using Power BI Report Builder. 

Table of Contents

What is Power BI Report Builder?

Microsoft Power BI Report Builder: Power BI Report Builder
Image Source: Microsoft Docs

Data is a powerful tool for evidence-based decision-making in organizations. That’s why every organization should attach much value to its data. However, data in its raw form is not of much value to an organization. Organizations need a way to process data and generate summaries, reports, and visualizations from the data.

This will make it easy for the organization to extract meaningful information from data that can be used for decision-making. However, these processes cannot be done manually. Organizations should use the right software tools for data analysis and visualization.

Power BI is a good example of such a tool. It was developed by Microsoft for the analysis and presentation of data using graphical visualizations. 

Features of Power BI Report Builder

While designing a Paginated Report you focus on creating the definition for your report that includes details like the methods you can use to retrieve the data from the report and how you can display it.

With Power BI Report Builder you can preview the report before you publish it to the Microsoft Power BI service. Here are a few features of Power BI Report Builder that give you an idea of everything you can accomplish with it:

  • Data Modification: You can group, filter, and sort data for your Paginated Reports while using Power BI Report Builder. It also allows you to add formulas and expressions to the reports.
  • Report Modification: Power BI Report Builder allows you to update and customize the reports that you create with the SQL Server Data Tools (SSDT) Report Designer.
  • Reporting from Multiple Sources: It allows you to create reports that draw relational and multidimensional data from various sources like SQL Server and Analysis Services, Power BI datasets, and Oracle to name a few.
  • Multiple Layouts: You can create Paginated Reports for matrix reports, column-based data for summarized data, chart reports for graph-based data, and free-form reports for everything else. The reports can contain other charts and reports along with lists, graphics, and controls for dynamic web-based applications.
  • Interactive Features: You can add numerous interactive features to your reports like gauges, charts, sparklines, indicators, and drill-through links to name a few.

Prerequisites

This is what you need for this article:

  • Premium Per User (PPU) or Power BI Pro License.
  • Power BI Report Builder. 

What is Paginated Reports?

Power BI Paginated Report: Power BI Report Builder
Image Source: Microsoft Power BI

Paginated Reports are the types of reports that are designed for printing or sharing. They are referred to as paginated because they are formatted to fit well on a page. Paginated Reports display all data in a table, even when the table spans many pages. They are also known as pixel-perfect due to their ability to control their page layout exactly. They are created using the Power BI Report Builder. 

Normally, Paginated Reports are made up of many pages, with each page laid out exactly. They also have repeating headers and footers, and one page per invoice. It’s possible to review your report in Power BI Report Builder before publishing it to the Power BI Service.

Note that you are required to have a Premium Per User (PPU) or Power BI Pro license to publish a report to this service. You are allowed to publish Paginated Reports in My Workspaces or workspaces, provided the workspace is in Power BI Premium capacity. 

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Difference Between Power BI Reports and Paginated Reports

It is quite a challenging part to choose between Power BI reports and Paginated reports. If you are using the Power BI report and if it has many tables you may probably need to scroll down through pages to view the complete report.

When you print a Power BI report, it will print only what is displayed at the time. On the other hand, every paginated report created using the report builder is printed in full, including all the content on your report with one command.

Power BI Paginated reports can also automatically create as many pages as required to show all of the data in the report. In the case of Power BI reports, page creation is a manual process where you have to manually build separate pages to include charts and other visualizations.

Understanding the Process of Creating Paginated Reports

The Power BI Report Builder generates reports in the .rdl file format, and the reports are mostly used for Operational Reporting. 

Make sure that you’ve installed the Power BI Report Builder on your computer. If you are using Power BI Service, you can find it under Downloads -> Paginated Report Builder. Open it. 

Follow the steps given below to build a Paginated Report:

  • Step 1: Click File, choose New, then click “Blank Report”. 
Paginated Reports using Power BI Report Builder Step 1
Image Source: Microsoft Docs
  • Step 2: Create a data source. You simply have to right-click the “Data Sources” option from the left. If you want to use the already published Power BI datasets, choose “Add Power BI Dataset Connection …”. To add a new data source, choose “Add Data Source”. 
Add Data Source
Image Source: Microsoft Docs

Select the dataset to be used to create the report. 

  • Step 3: You should now create a query against the data set. Just right-click the “Datasets” option from the left and choose “Add Dataset”. 
Add Dataset
Image Source

Select the data source and use Query Designer to build a query. 

  • Step 4: Once the data becomes available, lay out your report. If you have worked with SQL Server Reporting Services (SSRS) Report Builder, this step should be easy for you. You can build a table and add columns to it from the dataset. 
  • Step 5: Click the “Run” button from the Home ribbon on the desktop to test the report. 

Publishing Paginated Reports with Power BI Report Builder

Now that the report is ready, you can go ahead and publish it to the Power BI service. To do so, follow the steps given below:

  • Step 1: Click “File” then choose “Save As”. 
  • Step 2: Select “Power BI Service”. 
  • Step 3: Give the file a name with a .rdl extension and click “Save”. You can also publish the report to an on-premise Power BI Report Server which is the same as the SSRS server.

Note that Power BI Report Server only comes with a subset of the features offered by the Power BI Service. To use the Power BI Report Server, you must have an organization-level premium license. 

Publishing Paginated Report to Power BI Service
Image Source: Microsoft Docs
  • Step 4: Once the report has been published, you will be able to run it in the Power BI Service. You can also share the report with other users. These users can in turn view the report using their user accounts or security groups. 
  • Step 5: You can also set up an email subscription to the report for you and other users. 

Limitations of Using Power BI Report Builder

So far in this article, you have looked at Paginated Reports and Power BI Report Builder along with their features. You have also gone through the steps to create and publish a Paginated Report in Power BI Report Builder.

Despite the various benefits offered by Power BI Report Builder, it still falls short of the mark in a number of fields. The following are the limitations associated with Power BI Paginated Reports:

  • Currently, interactive features like show/hide buttons and document maps are not supported. 
  • A lot of technical expertise is required for one to build a Paginated Report. Several complicated steps are involved, especially when importing data from external data sources. 
  • Power BI does not provide a way to pull real-time data from external data sources. This can delay the data-driven decision-making process in businesses. 

Conclusion

This article talks about creating Paginated Reports using Power BI Report Builder in great detail after giving a brief overview of what Paginated Reports are and a simple to follow step-by-step guide to creating and publishing Paginated Reports using Power BI Report Builder.

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